Independent Reviews

Visualizing by Kathleen M. Fischer

[Critique] Visualizing by Kathleen M. Fischer

This is my first review... ever... so if I make any horrible blunders, let me know. [ Actually, reading over this review one last time before sending, I think "critique" might be a better word for a piece of art, and am changing the subject accordingly. ]

Title: Visualizing
Author: Marnie Parker
Parser: Inform

This IF art work was created as an example of interactive scenery (see Doe's IF Art Show web site at the above listed URL if you don't know what I'm talking about). As it is the first piece of scenery I've analyzed I was somewhat unsure what to expect. What I found was a playable, short... experience... game just isn't the right word, even though it is was certainly entertaining and does contain a plot. If the point is to interact with the environment using all your senses then Doe is definitely on the right track, especially with the mud. I really enjoyed the mud... and the jar (actually, your reaction to jar might be more accurate). In fact, they were so complete that I found myself disappointed that not everything was implemented as thoroughly. A totally unfair response, I suppose.

The idea is that you are visualizing your favorite spot, a place by the creek where you went as a child. Now a creek is wonderful place to explore and the piece worked the best for me here, a real hands on experience. I did feel the descriptions could have been longer and more detailed. But then one could counter that this is actual a "visualization" of a memory from the past and memories aren't always that detailed.

There are a few puzzles and I found the difficulty of them to be just about right for a piece of art. The scoring system was useful at seeing how I was progressing. Unfortunately it is silent when you get a point so I found myself continually typing "score" just to see how I was doing (call it my obsessive-compulsive side) which turned out, for me, to be more distracting than if the thing had just alerted me when I had done something right.

Doe has chosen to put a simple plot around the piece and I keep wavering as to whether I think it's a good idea for a piece of art. On the one hand, it gave context to the exploration and allowed the responses to be more interesting as they are tailored to the persona you are playing instead of some generic viewer. Both of those are big pluses. On the down side, I felt it was somewhat distracting. Especially the helpful messages that appeared periodically suggesting things to do in plot consistent phrasing. Sorry, but I felt they were intrusive and unnecessary. What I wanted was to immerse myself in the location, and every time I got there those comments would yank me back out. There is an ending of sorts which provides a nice sense of closure. [ When I originally played it I was missing a point when it ended. I later figured out what I was missing, but haven't gone back to play it again to see if the ending changes if you gain all the points. ]

Summary? I think Doe is on to something here with her art, and I really enjoyed the piece when it stuck to the topic at hand, scenery exploration. Had it been an entrant in Comp99 I would have scored it in the 6-7 range which would probably place it in the top 15% for me. For though it was short, it was well written, proof read, bug free, and had some interesting objects that were amusing to explore. I certainly hope that Doe continues to explore this area of IF in the future.


Date: Mon, 22 November 1999 12:21 PM EST
Message-id: <81bu36$87p$>

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